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article imageA conversation with Toronto Mayoral Candidate James Di Fiore Special

By KJ Mullins     Aug 25, 2010 in Politics
Toronto - Toronto's mayoral race is heating up. In addition to the front runners are numerous fringe candidates offering their solutions to real problems facing Torontonians. James Di Fiore is one who has thrown his hat in the race, targeting Toronto's youth.
James Di Fiore is a young maverick living in Toronto who wants the youth, "the backbone of Toronto society," to be represented at City Hall. He believes he is the man that will give them "a seat at the table." A copy writer who works from his home, Di Fiore states that he is "not a politician and if elected mayor would just be a politician by title."
During a phone interview with Di Fiore, the conversation ranged from reducing the number of sex offenders being sent to Toronto to making the city more suited for young, single adults.
Di Fiore said one of his key concerns for Toronto is the number of sex offenders being sent to the city after prison. In areas like the Annex and Queen West, the sex offenders are sent because of the close proximity to CAMH. These areas are densely populated with families giving these offenders a large number of potential future victims. Di Fiore questions why these criminals are being sent to the largest city in Canada where they have "a buffet of victims." He believes that mayors from Canada's largest cities should be working together to rid their cities of these offenders making the streets safer.
"Who believes the opposite? Pot growers get long sentences but raping a kid, these people are given ten years maybe and then get off in five. They deserve to be given stiffer sentences."
Di Fiore admits to not having a beef with the Toronto Transit Commission. He is a daily user of public transit and sees the benefits of the system. He believes that it should be an essential service.
"Transit City works for me. We're hearing wild plans from other candidates about the TTC from Sarah Thompson's $14 billion for an airport extension to other schemes. Miller's plan is a strong one. It's the closest one to what should be."
Di Fiore said that much of the TTC's problem relate to how many hens are in the hen house with four different bureaucracies in control of transit.
Asked about electric vs. diesel trains in Toronto, Di Fiore admitted he wasn't up to date with the issue but thought that it would be a good prototype to test an electric system with service from Union Station to the Pearson Airport.
Asked about what he plans to bring to the table in regards to education Di Fiore spoke about the Canadian Youth and Business program, saying that the model would be a good one for Toronto.
"The program gives youth more opportunities to become self employed. Youth graduating today don't feel like they should be having to 'pay their dues.' With mentoring and corporate donations this program allows for young people to have their own businesses."
Di Fiore said that the youth of today are the stewards of technology. "We were playing video games at 5 that were more advanced that what our parents were doing."
Di Fiore said that young people are advancing rapidly in design and programming, leapfrogging their elders. "Look at the hackers, they are being offered jobs to work on Internet security."
Di Fiore said that he would be attending a debate on October 6 held by Housing Action Now to discuss Toronto's housing issues. When asked about his plans for city housing and the homeless, Di Fiore said that "I have no idea the budget allocations. I am not going to make promises until I know the real numbers. Politicians tend to promise the world and then deliver the island."
One issue that he is making commitments is to call for an audit on all religious institutions and lobby the government to repeal the property tax exemption status (as determined by the Land Assessment Act) of any religious institution found to be relying solely on their faith to retain status. Di Fiore said that the only thing he agrees with candidate Rob Ford is that there is too much wasteful spending at City Hall. He cites the goodbye party for City Councilor Kyle Rae.
"I would remove those institutions that stand on faith alone for tax exemptions. I do not understand why they are not paying property taxes. That in itself would bring the city $180 million a year."
Di Fiore pointed out that more than half of people under the age of 40 identify themselves as either agnostic or atheistic. He believes that Toronto should have freedom from religion as well as freedom for religion.
When asked about those institutions that do provide social services as part to the city. such as the Triangle Program being housed at Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCCT), Di Fiore said: "I would risk programs like the Triangle Program to get the tax dollars." Di Fiore added that he would also see that programs like the one mentioned would get the funding that they need to continue. Asked why the citizens of Toronto should trust the government to use the money provided from taxing these institutions for the social sector, Di Fiore said that it is easier to monitor the monies at a city level than from a federal or provincial level.
Tax breaks should be given to young, single people living in Toronto stated Di Fiore. He said that single people living on their own use less energy yet have none of the tax breaks that are afforded to others age groups.
"There are tax breaks for families, seniors and businesses but not for the youth of Toronto. It is time that the youth are not left out of the process. The backbone of Toronto is young people who are not getting any breaks."
Di Fiore said that he would not be taking away other tax breaks already being used.
One way of reducing the daily consumption of energy in Toronto, Di Fiore believes, would be by increasing the virtual office space. With most meetings being carried out virtually, the need of office space should be reduced in Toronto with more people working from their homes instead of taking daily commutes into the city.
"By utilizing current technology reduction of energy, cars on the road and passengers crowding public transportation would be a short term reality. The long term benefit would be freeing up more area as green space in the city."
Di Fiore said that he would continue the move to a greener Toronto. He said that current mayor David Miller promised to reduce landfills by 70 percent and will leave office not quite there but at a very positive 50 percent.
"I will continue the drive to reduce landfills. I will continue the 5 cent fee for plastic bags. I will look into getting more wind mills to create sustainable energy."
Di Fiore stands firm on his issues. He believes that giving the youth a seat at the table will make for a stronger Toronto. To learn more about his views visit his notes section on his Facebook account.
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